Minnesota Valkyries 55, Wisconsin Women 18

That’s the score of our league season-opening game Saturday. A loss … but a good game.

Positives:
– We had 18 CIPPed players ready to roll. Some new faces, some old friends back again.
– We had a great sideline of fans. Probably the most I have seen at a single women’s rugby game in a very long time.
– The weather cooperated. It was cooler and cloudy, but no rain and the slight breeze kept the mosquitos that have invaded the pitch off of us.
– We didn’t play well. And this is a positive, because it means that we can keep playing better and better.
– One of our old girls, Jill, told me later that she can’t remember ever scoring 18 points against the Valkyries. And I can only remember one game where we scored one try.

Negatives:
– We need more active players for more help all around and so our A-side starters don’t have to be b-side starters too. Only one of our three subs had ever played in this level of game before and one of the subs is a disaster waiting to happen (more on this later).
– We didn’t capitalize on a few more opportunities to score. And despite some beautiful kicks, serendipity worked against our kickers too.
– There is now a core of veteran players, including me, that need to start “unleashing the beast”.
– My taco dip at the third half never lasts long enough.
– Pinkie’s boyfriend’s rendition of “Rock Me Like A Hurricane” in karoake has been challenged by the old guy who actually walks out into the audience and sings to people. Sean – The gauntlet has been thrown.

Individually … well, it is clear to me that I naturally should be a back because of my size/am speedier than most forwards, so I understand why I am out in the backline (ended up at Outside Center for A-Side, Wing for B-Side to fill in), but being a back is unnatural to me at the moment.

Aside from the fact that I need to get in better shape to keep up with my fellow backs, but it’s pretty frustrating every practice and now in games to unlearn being a forward (which I think I was getting pretty good at) and learn how to be a back.

Nothing is second-nature to me out there, aside from the basics of ball-passing and running forward. It was absolutely awful during our game Saturday to see a breakdown within 5-10 meters of me, knowing I could make a difference in there, but then remember that I needed to get back to my spot in the line.

I also have a hard time remembering our plays. This is partly just because I’ve only been learning them for what, like four practices? And partly because all of us in the backline aren’t used to each other. We all have different speeds, different starts, different styles of movements. Some are fast bursters with quick cuts, some have more long speed. I don’t know where I fit in within this new dynamnic.

Further, my role within in our team in the larger sense is one of a decision-maker and leader off the field. This is not the case on the field, nor should it be for the most part, aside from the mindset that playing rugby for a long time gives you. By this I mean, I’m comfortable knowing what I am supposed to be doing in the vast majority of rugby in-game situations. This would be in comparison to someone who’s played less or just started.

Warming up Saturday, this proved to be an issue. Our backline was working on our plays because we had brought a brand new player into the mix at the last second. We don’t have a clear leader in the backline right now. So everyone’s trying to lead and no one is listening, including myself. Directions and suggestions were, at least for a time, not being taken objectively. And then it was very frustrating and some of us were clearly (at least to me) pissed off with each other. Thankfully, we shut up and settled down and made a go of things by game time … maybe it was just nerves, I know it was for me, but it’s still frustrating.

Plus, and backs who’ve never been forwards won’t understand this at all, but the constant “hurry up and wait” of being a back sucks. Granted, we were busy and busting our butts out in the line, but it’s the not constant in your face, always scrumming, rucking, mauling of being a forward. It’s like someone took my rugby IV and changed my in-game dosage from continuous stream to drop-drop-drop. I’ll get used to it … but it doesn’t mean I necessarily will like it.

The one perk? Now I’m grouped in with the “pretty back” jokes. And I let my rookie locks borrow my scrumcap.

In capping this, our team has acquired a seemingly psychotic new player. And I don’t mean a rookie who’s busting up the field in games, I mean, literally, someone whom I feel the medical profession could diagnose as having some mental health and social interaction issues.

Now I have played for a long time. 11 years. And I’ve met all types of people in this rugby world of ours. Further, I have met lots of new players and always made sure the rugby door was open for them. But I have finally met someone that I wouldn’t hesitate to shut and triple-lock the rugby door against their re-entry. I want this person to quit our team and never talk to any of us again in the most sincere and deepest recesses of my little rugby heart. Please please, rugby gods, help us out here in Wisconsin and ship this looney back to whereever it is that she came from before she ends up getting one of us injured on the field or turns her looney-bird mentality on us.

Our coach says she’s “uncoachable”. She keeps informing us all she’s played before, but the rugby basics of 80-minute games, wrapping in tackles, off-sides, and basic sports knowledge of earning your position are beyond foreign to her. I have never met someone who – with complete ignorance of the sport she’s trying to play – assumes, no wait, presumes that by simply being there, she’s is automatically entitled to playing in our division 1 league match. Last time I checked, this is senior women’s rugby, not a damn preschool YMCA soccer team.

Word on the street though? She’s already asked one of our coaches if USA Rugby will refund her money because she only played in the b-side. And considering, she was called off-sides three – THREE – times in a 30-minute b-side match, argued with me as to why she couldn’t enter a ruck from the side when “everyone else was doing it” and then set Pinkie up for numerous hospital passes in which I clearly saw Pinkie’s face transform from a look of happily playing rugby to Oh shit, why is she passing the ball to me to oh my god, I just got laid out again by the other team’s forwards and finally to if I kill her, I bet I could make it look like an unfortunate rugby accident.

Good stuff, you guys. Good stuff.

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One response to “Minnesota Valkyries 55, Wisconsin Women 18

  1. OBG

    This may be contrary to popular opinion, but I think you can be a back and still have a high work rate. Ruck when needed. Make yourself available. Act as a decoy. Do something. Don’t just wait. It’ll be more fun for you and better for your team.

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